Like real estate’s mantra of location, location, location…. machine learning’s very foundation and success are predicated on choice training data and blazing processing speed. If you got wedged under a rock in 2017, it may be both a blessing and a curse that you missed the CRM AI media frenzy. AI showed up everywhere. But buildup and hype aside, real progress was made in some impactful areas as unprecedented investments poured in. More resources supporting great minds pushed forward innovation in areas like image recognition, voice technologies, and natural language generation (NLG). And savvy brands that mindfully wired these into CRM applications boosted performance, in some cases realizing 400 percent ROI. Here are eight areas worth watching in 2018 that saw significant headway and are poised to advance further.